Nancy Smith-Blackwell
Women dancers at the Red Paint Pow Wow

Apache’s Red Paint Pow Wow Going Strong After Overcoming Hurdles

Tish Leizens
January 16, 2013


A change in marketing direction has given organizers of the Red Paint Pow Wow and Indian Market, January 18 to 20, in Silver City, New Mexico, the encouragement they need to successfully host and manage more annual gatherings.

“It could have been our 10th year, but now it is our 9th year,” said Jon Gonzalez, president of the Red Paint Tribal Council, the group tasked to manage the powwow activities held in memory and recognition of the Chihene Apache (Red Paint People/Warm Springs Apache).

Dancer at the Red Paint Pow Wow (Photo credit: Nancy Smith-Blackwell)

Due to lack of funding, the powwow sponsored by the Chiricahua Apache, was canceled in 2011. But last year, armed with a different marketing approach, Gonzalez said the powwow was back in action and a great success.

“It looks like this is going to be a good event,” Gonzalez said of this years event. “We developed different ways to marketing the powwow. This brings in more people and increases awareness.”

In recent years, he said marketing for the powwow had not been a top priority. They have since remedied that by working closely with business chambers, the local university, and the media, while also adding more sponsors.

But despite the difficulties of organizing a major event, he said it was important to continue the tradition of honoring the Apache people. “We like to provide some sort of involvement and presence in this community,” he added.

The powwow flyer says as much with its declaration: “This is Apache Land, this has always been Apache Land.”

Held at Western New Mexico University, Gonzalez said he expects the same amount of people that came last year, about 4,000, to attend the powwow celebration this week. The number is a 30 percent increase from the powwow held prior to the cancellation in 2010.

The powwow typically draws people from New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, Texas, Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma, Vermont and Canada, among others.

The Red Paint Powwow and Indian Market has always relied on admissions to help fund the event. Tickets range from $5 to $10 per person depending on the day of visit and age of visitor.

Young dancers at the Red Paint Pow Wow (Photo Credit: Nancy Smith-Blackwell)

This week the total pay out for the powwow competitions is $13,000. Gonzalez said that prizes for the dance competition are for first, second and third places, while prizes for drums are for first and second place only.

Dance categories include men’s and women’s golden age; men’s and women’s northern traditional; men’s southern straight; women’s southern cloth; men’s grass dance; women’s jingle dress; men’s fancy dance; and women’s fancy shawl

Teen’s competitions feature boy’s northern traditional and southern straight combinations; teen girls northern traditional and southern cloth combo; teen boys fancy and grass combo; teen girls fancy shawl and jingle dress combo.

In junior’s, boys will be competing in northern traditional, southern straight, fancy and grass all combo, while girls will be competing in northern traditional, southern cloth, fancy shawl and jingle dress all combo. Tiny tots can participate in all combos.

According to the powwow flyer, Friday marks “Educational Day.”  The Indian Market opens at 9 a.m., while performances—storytelling, dance demonstrations, presentations, and songs— begin at 10 a.m.

The Saturday and Sunday schedule lists gourd dancing, contest powwows, grand entries, and award ceremony.

Among the performers and participants are Otis Half Moon (Nez Perce) as master of ceremonies; Tommy Spotted Bird (Kiowa) arena director; Derwin Velarde (Jicarilla Apache) head judge; and Shirley Pino (Santa Ana) vendor coordinator.

Leonard Anthony (Dine) and White Eagle Gourd Society (Navajo) are the head gourd dancers. Star Feather (Jemez Pueblo) and Southern Outlawz (Dine/Mescalero) are the host northern and southern drum, respectively. Jakey Skye (Lakota/Dine) was named head man, while Debbie Skye (Dine) was named head lady.

Drummers at the Red Paint Pow Wow (Photo Credit: Nancy Smith-Blackwell)

Other performers are Norwyn Wesley (San Carlos Apache) as gaan dancers; Freddie Kaydahzinne (Chiricahua/Mescalero) and Christian Pike “Big Boy” (San Carlos Apache) representing the Apache singers. Tigel Pinto (Dine) is the Dine flute, while the sound will be provided by Sounds Good Audio-Orlando Secatero (Dineh).

Some 70 vendors are expected to sell all-Native produced items including jewelry, t-shirts, blankets and food, among others, Gonzalez said.

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